Owner of dog shot by Hawthorne police officer asks for changes and discipline

August 16, 2013

Leon Rosby, the Hawthorne man whose dog Max was shot by a Hawthorne Police Department officer, wants justice for his slain dog, CBS Los Angeles reported August 13.

Rosby, 52, along with several supporters from the Hawthorn community, attended the most recent Hawthorne City Council meeting. At the meeting, Rosby asked for changes in the way police handle dogs and their owners, and for the officer who shot Max to be disciplined.

 According to CBS News, Rosby stated

“He wasn’t just a dog, he was a family member.”

Rosby was recently arraigned on two counts of dissuading a witness from prosecuting a crime, intimidation of a witness, making criminal threats and resisting arrest. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and claims no knowledge of why they’re charging him with an incident involving a woman and her son who live near where Max was gunned down.

Dr. Celia Villapando, who spoke at a city council meeting on July 26, summed up the situation of police slaying an innocent dog, and Rosby’s supporters echo her outlook on the situation. Villapando gave a speech at last months meeting where she talked about Max being shot by police, and the impact it had on a child who is now afraid of police.

“Its haunted me since the day I saw it. I can’t believe that an officer who I specially trained would resort to deadly force as his first option. Because they are trained, they should be held to a higher standard of behavior. His behavior was reckless. It broke my heart to hear a woman say her 6 year old son who heard his own dog barking asked the officer who was there are you going to kill my dog too. I would ask that the officer be evaluated. I don’t think I’d want someone protecting me that was so quick to pull the trigger.”

Villapando explained the danger of trigger happy police once again at Tuesday night’s meeting

“The officer that killed Max needs to be relieved of his duties. He is a clear and present danger to the community.”

Rosby and his supporters believe the recent charges are backlash at his complaints filed against Hawthorne Police Department stemming from an incident in July 2012 that included racial profiling and mistreatment. What better way to discredit Rosby than to question his integrity as to charges made against the department?

The City Council has received several thousand petitions signed by supporters asking the officers involved in the incident be fired. High-profile attorney Mark Geragos, who is representing Rosby, calls the charges “police payback.”

Both sides plan to use two videos, made from different vantage points to prove their case. Each side believes they were in the right, and the videos will prove that.

This case isn’t solely about Rosby putting his dog in a dangerous position when he stopped to take a video of a police standoff using his cell phone. Rosby placed Max back into his car before police reached him, and even had his hands behind his head by the time the Hawthorne officers got close.

Where is the evidence on the video showing Rosby resisted arrest? A subject resisting arrest doesn’t “assume the position” before officers have pulled out the handcuffs.

Rosby had left his car window down that day because it was hot in Hawthorne. Max jumped out of the car when he saw his master was in trouble. Rosby can be heard on the video begging officers not to shoot his dog. To allow him to get Max to safety before the situation escalated.

Rosby and Max were well known in the Hawthorne community. The Hawthorne Police Department officers had to know how deeply Max was loved. How much hatred did these officers have toward this man, to shoot and kill the most precious thing in the world to him?

What boundary will these officers cross with the next person who rubs them the wrong way? This wasn’t the first time Hawthorne Police have crossed the line of what most of us consider decent behavior. It’s doubtful that killing Max will be the last.


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